23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Thomas Kapielski
© Hartwig Klappert

Thomas Kapielski

Thomas Kapielski was born in Berlin-Charlottenburg in 1951. He studied Geography, Philosophy and Music Theory and as an artist, musician, performer and author belonged to West Berlin’s bohemian literary scene. He transformed from an inside tip to cult author with the books »Davor kommt noch. Gottesbeweise IX–XIII« (1988; tr: Before is Still to Come: Proof of God’s Existence IX–XIII) and »Danach war schon. Gottesbeweise I–VIII« (1999; tr: Afterwards has Already Been: Proof of God’s Existence I–VIII). In 1999 he was awarded the Ben Witter Prize and the Sprengel Prize for Fine Arts. Its jury recognised him as a »universal, philosophical intellect, a rogue with baroque wit and ingenuity, who laconically captures the unobtrusive madness of everyday life and does not give a damn about genre boundaries.«

Kapielski’s anarchic word artistry becomes obvious in his titles: »Einfallspinsel = Ausfallspinsel« (1987; tr: Tangle of Incidence = Tangle of Reflexion), »Nach Einbruch der Nüchternheit« (1996; tr: After Soberness Falls), both typical examples of his deliberately silly puns, with which he eludes every kind of general statement, moral etiquette and modish trend. As in the »Proof of God’s Existence«, Kapielski’s effortlessly composed tirades of nonsense are fraught with witty references to philosophy, theology and art history. In »Sozialmanierismus. Je dickens destojwski« (2001; tr: Social Mannerism: The Dickens Thestoyevsky), an educated guess is made: »It may be that for humans the relevant reality holds not the structure of facts but rather of events. This reality therefore cannot be rendered through theses, but rather through – as Aristotle calls it (therefore sublime!) – praxeos mimesis, vulgo through storytelling.« Thus Kapielski’s loose sequences crafted from observations of everyday life ironically provide certain insights.

Kapielski likes to illustrate his works with his own drawings or black and white photographs. His motifs, simple as well as grotesque, are for example ashtrays or dustbins. Kapielski has shown his art work in numerous solo and group exhibitions, among them at the Valentin-Musäum in Munich. He has given readings, lectures and shown slide shows at various places abroad, but mainly he has appeared at local places, as with his threatening speech »Eat the rich! Für die Rettung des Minigolf-Biergartens« (tr: For the Salvation of the Minigolf Beergarden) in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district.

His first CD, performed with the »Original Oberkreuzberger Nasenflöten Orchester« (Engl: Original Upper Kreuzberg Nose Flute Orchestra), followed the interactive audio book »Abstehende Röhren« (2002; tr: Protruding Tubes). Kapielski was Professor at the Art Academy of Braunschweig. He lives in Berlin.

© internationales literaturfestival berlin


Aqua Botulus
Berlin, 1992

Davor kommt noch. Gottesbeweise IX–XIII
Frankfurt/Main, 2001

Danach war schon. Gottesbeweise I–VIII
Frankfurt/Main, 2002

Anblasen: Texte zur Kunst
Berlin, 2006

Neue sezessionistische Heizkörperverkleidungen

Berlin, 2012